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The Chains That Hold You Back

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The Chains That Hold You Back

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I was on my way back from a ride (cycling) yesterday and stopped at an ocean overlook. In front of me was a wooden fence with a thick, not-yet tarnished by the saltwater, chains. In the midst of the beauty of the Pacific Ocean, these chains stuck out to me. I sat down at the bench and stared at these chains with the waves curling in the background.

How many times do chains hold you and I back? Answer: more than we know. Chains of guilt, shame, regret, hurt, depression, excuses, abuse. Chains are heavy. Draining. Chains cause negative health issues. Chains can ruin relationships. Chains cause destructive behavior. Chains are deadly.

For many people, chains from their childhood carry into adulthood and result in obesity- which has a domino effect with other health diseases. Chains hold people back and keep them stuck in living the same way they always have. Freedom from the demons that haunt you seems like a dream and living in peace is a faraway land.

So how do you get rid of the chains that keep you stuck and unwell? Here are four ways to ditch the chains that weigh you down (no pun intended).

1) Write it out. Putting words down on a piece of paper is very therapeutic. Find a quiet spot and grab a notebook and just start writing. Or your laptop and start typing! Write your story. The words on the piece of paper don’t have to make sense, just get your story out. Be prepared for some tears but also a sense of relief and peace. This process may take a few hours or a few months. In fact, get in the habit of writing daily. Ask yourself the hard questions. What do you believe about yourself? Why? Who in your life told you or implied that you weren’t good enough and food became your source of comfort? Excess weight (and for that matter, lack of weight) is usually a cry for help. We are carrying around chains of lies, hurts and shame. These heavy chains are weighing you down by friend! They aren’t serving you in healthy ways. Begin to write your story down today.

2) Acknowledge your past (and present). A lot of us like to live in denial or “ignorance is bliss” mode. But this is doing you no good! Continuing to live life with excuses is damaging your health. How can you achieve your goals with denial? You can’t! Sure, you might be able to skate by in life for a few years but sooner than later they will catch up with you. From diabetes to stroke to heart attacks, “ignorance is bliss” will have major consequences on you and those around you. Treating the symptom of the disease or illness doesn’t address the underlying issue of the problem. A pill might keep the symptoms at bay for a short time, but it’s a ticking time bomb. When you acknowledge the source of your problems it’s then that can you break the chains that bind you.

3) Smash those chains! Acknowledgment is great, but if you stop there, it’s like a train sitting on the tracks with the destination in sight but never arriving. Make a plan of attack to break the chains that hold you down. Therapy with a qualified counselor, support groups, changing who you hang out with, build a support network of compassionate and understanding friends, listen to positive music and a faith community that gives graces and love freely are all ways to help smash those chains. Giving yourself grace as you walk through the process of dealing with your chains is also extremely important! You’ll discover new things all the time and make connections and personal insights that will help you to live in freedom for a long time to come.

4) Heal your wounds. Healing is one step of the journey to freedom. And healing usually begins with forgiveness. I hesitate to use this word because those of us that have been horribly abused (myself included) can view forgiveness as letting the other person off the hook.  But from personal experience I can tell you that is not what is forgiveness is about! Forgiving those who have hurt you actually gives you freedom to live life wholly! Healing and forgiveness is a lifelong process but with time, healing from your past and what’s been done to you does get easier over the course of your life. One of the best things you can do is to see a qualified therapist. Stable, emotional health is paramount to a good, healthy life. Many times we overlook emotional health for workouts and neglect the mental health. Healing the mind can heal the body. Invite a trusted professional or spiritual mentor into your life journey of healing as you begin to process the things that keep you a slave to your chains. Forgiving and healing go hand-in-hand. Sometimes it’s forgiving others, other times it’s forgiving yourself.

Also, please note that when you are healing from wounds (emotional or physical), your body needs more nutritious food than ever. Wellness is a combination of your body, mind and spirit. Eating a processed, junk “food”, sugar-laden, caffeine-overload diet will make healing from life’s wounds very difficult. Make sure you are eating for health to support your body’s nutritional needs. (If you need help, just let me know!)

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Getting Personal. I’ve had my fair share of chains in my life. Chains of guilt, unworthiness, doubt, and never good enough. All of these stemmed from the lies told to me during my childhood/teen years from my parents- the two people that are supposed to love and care for you. More of this will be shared in my book (April 2014) but I just wanted to let you know that I too continue to walk in a journey of freedom and grace.

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What are some of your chains that are holding you back? How will you break free from them? Release those chains my friends and live free!

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A Plea to Pastors and Churches (and the faith community)

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A Plea to Pastors and Churches (and the faith community)

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I was listening to a podcast the other evening and the pastor asked at the beginning of the message to donate candy for their Fall Fest. I cringed.

Our nation's health is currently in a crisis. Diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and yes, obesity abound and the church is participating (dare I say, promoting?) an unhealthy lifestyle. Note: According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), diseases including cancer can be up to 95% prevented simply by lifestyle.

A few fast facts to remind us that obesity is a serious illness:

  • One in three kids are obese. [Source: Journal of the American Medical Association]
  • One in every five U.S. teenagers have abnormal cholesterol levels, putting them at greater risk of heart disease. [Source: CDC]
  • Obese adults are more likely to have depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. [Source: Psychosom Med]
  • Around 20% of cancer in women and 15% in men is directly related to obesity. [Source: New England Journal of Medicine]
  • Obese children are more likely to become obese adults. [Source: Journal of Adolescent Health]
  • Obesity-related diseases and health problems account for 61% of healthcare costs in America. [Source: CDC]
  • Obesity-related healthcare costs us $147 billion each year. [Source: CDC]

Do I have your attention now? I don't know about you, but this is not OK with me.

As does the church, I believe that we should be at the forefront of our healthcare issues. That is taking care of our bodies - not just physically and spiritually, but also from a nutrition standpoint. Exercise and daily activity are important, but so is what we put into our bodies. Most pastors and churches are careful what they listen to, read and watch. But how many of us feed our bodies garbage? What we put in our bodies is a direct correlation to our mood, our attitude and our overall health. And ultimately how the world interprets if we "practice what we preach."

The church wants to raise a generation for Jesus, but how can they when a lifestyle of disease is promoted? It's really hard to have spiritual health when the mental and physical health is neglected. There is a huge need in the church/faith community as a whole (and an article for another day) for a health and eat real food movement. I'm passionate about helping the faith community learn about real food and fitness and how it all goes together. That's why I wrote this.

Are you a pastor? Involved in planning events for the community? Here are some ways to reach the community but not contribute to the disease of our nation.

No. 1) Think Fall, Not Candy. Have a Fall Fest, but opt for healthy options. Candy is filled with toxins, called food dyes, that go by the name Blue No.1 (petroleum), Red 40 (coal tar), Yellow 5 & 6 (coal tar). These dyes are known to cause a host of health problems, including a direct link to cancer and do not belong in our food or body. Have apples, mini pumpkins, or if you really must have candy, go for real candy options like Annie's Berry Patch Organic Fruit Snacks or YummyEarth or UNREAL. Or why not something active? Like jump ropes. A 5k? Wear the kids out by creating activities that use their mind, spirit and body. Throw a healthy Fall Festival!

No. 2) Think Faith + Fitness + Real Food. Just like you can't have wealth without health, it's really hard to say you have faith and not pay attention to what you are putting in your body or how you treat it. Get active and start reading the labels on what you buy. Don't know an ingredient? Research it! Learn what you are about to eat. Become educated. Subscribe to the eat real food lifestyle.

No. 3) Think Long Term. What is the goal of the event you are having? Community outreach? Sharing the love of Jesus? Being the hands and feet of Jesus? As believers, we should be living and breathing examples of a healthy life to the rest of the world. How can you and I be the light of this world and the salt of this earth if we personally don't take care of our bodies in all areas?

I have many pastor friends and my prayer for you is that you will lead the people not only spiritually, but in health too. And as always, please let me know how I can support you and your church to embrace a healthy lifestyle! Check out this resource to help you get started!

 

Photo credit: Tambako

 

 

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When You Don't See What God Writes In The Dirt

Last week I wrote: "sometimes I just wish God would write in the dirt for what I am supposed to do." Recently I've been facing some frustrating, tough, white-knuckled life decisions. The kind that makes you want to run for the hills and forget about reality for just a little while. But since that is not an option, I do know what is: continuing to seek God's plan for my life. But what does that mean? It's not like it is written in the dirt or the sky for EXACTLY what I am supposed to do. Or is it?

More than anything, I long and desire to do what God wants me to do. And I think that is the first step for walking in God's plan for your life. If you are seeking His will for what you do, how you live and what choices you make, you are acknowledging that you need His help. You can't seek if you don't desire to seek.

How do you know if you should have (more) kids? Who to marry? That house to buy? What race to run? What job not to take? Where to live? And the host of other life decisions that bombard us day in and day out. What food to avoid? It is easy to not care what God wants for your life and just live by the world's standards. But since that is not an option for me, how do I learn to seek God every.single.moment? Here are my "top three" to seeking God's will and plan for my life.

Read. The. Bible. One of my goals for 2012 is to read the entire Bible (thank you YouVersion for the app and plan!) And just not cramming it in during last month of the year, but each and every day. As of this writing, it is day 114! By reading God's word and trying to live by His principles, I'm  learning how to make godly choices vs. self-satisfying choices. Do things always make sense? No, of course not. Do some things make total sense? Absolutely. That is called growth. I have also included other daily devotionals that are helping me to see things from a different perspective. Each and every day before I jump out of bed I start my day with God. If I'm going to figure out his plan for my life I had better seek him first before anything else. Here are my "top three" to seeking God's will and plan for my life.

Pray. All. The. Time. This is something I've been doing for a while. I pray while cycling, while I run, while I cook, while I work. And specifically. I tell Him what is going on. What I am feeling. The choices I have to make. Everything. I pour my heart out to God. He already knows what I'm going through and what I will go through, but by stopping to acknowledge that I need him, it symbols a dependence on Him, not on my strength alone.

Seek. Godly. Wisdom.  I am grateful to have great, godly friends. Last week I was so overwhelmed with the things that were hitting me faster than I could count to 7, I talked to a good friend. Who shared this with me. Make choices that are

1) Spiritual

2) Emotional

3) Financial

This was SO powerful to me. So often I make choices that either emotional or financial first, not second or third. This totally changed my thinking around and made a few decisions easier to make. Once we start to change our thinking to this pattern, big and small decisions become (somewhat) easier to make. I'm not saying it is easy to make, but when the choice is based first by God's plan vs. ours, life goes so much smoother. It's when we react with emotion or based on financial reasons alone that things start to go haywire. Godly wisdom and perspective is great. If you don't have godly friends, I pray that you will find some.

I don't have all the answers. In fact I have very few. But I know this much in trying to live, breathe and move by God's plan for my life that when I seek His plan for my life, He will guide me. Will I get it right each and every time? Nope. I am human. I have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. But in those mistakes, God can still bring blessing and understanding and growth.

Are you trying to figure out what you are supposed to do with your life? Are you frustrated because you aren't seeing God's writing in the dirt? I urge you to start seeking Him by the top three: daily reading the Bible, daily prayer and having godly friends. Truly desire to seek His plan for your life.

God's writing is in the dirt, we just have to work diligently to find it.

Jesus, may we each long to live by your plan for our lives. May we not grow weary in seeking you. Your plan is the best plan. Help us to seek you in all we do, live and say. Amen.

 

photo by: [Bellie]

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ME: Motivation Encouragement

Mondays are typically a day that people dread. How many people do you know that say “Happy Monday!” (well, besides me)? Very few! Well, we want to help you have a positive day, week, month, year, life … So every Monday we have a series called ME: Motivation Encouragement. This is one way we can help you start your Monday off on the right foot! I saw this quote from quotediary.me and thought it would be fitting for today's article.

"Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged people who kept on working!"

And I would add "those who never gave up". Feeling tired (yes, I know it is Monday), discouraged, weary? Don't give up. Keep the faith even when it seems impossible. You never know what great thing(s) are in store for you! God will give you the strength to get through each minute, hour, day, month, year.

Be strong and of great courage!

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ME: Motivation Encouragement (A Work in Progress and an Old VW Bug)

Mondays are typically a day that people dread. How many people do you know that say “Happy Monday!” (well, besides me)? Very few! Well, we want to help you have a positive day, week, month, year, life … So every Monday we have a series called ME: Motivation Encouragement. This is one way we can help you start your Monday off on the right foot! The other week, as I was traveling, I spotted an old VW Bug. Now I have a 'thing' for vintage bugs. Don't know why, but I like them. Same with old VW Vans. So each time I spy one, I like to take a photo. I was walking down the street and there it was. An old, beat up bug. Flat tire, paint worn off, some parts sandblasted and in general rough shape by appearance . I immediately thought "a work in progress" and of course a life application started forming in my head :).

I don't know about you, but I'm a work in progress. In fact, just a few days ago, it was like I got soccer-punched. I wasn't expecting to have life turned upside. AGAIN. But it did. And I was reminded that, like the vintage bug, I too am a work-in-progress. I think admitting that you are, is the first step in growing. If you don't acknowledge there is a problem, change will never happen. Being a work in progress is sometimes painful, sometimes scary and sometimes hopeful. I don't know the old bug owners, but I bet they are hopeful they can get the bug back to good as new. I also bet that putting time, money and physical hard work into fixing it up is painful and uncertain. But if they don't try, they will never know what the car might have been. 

And so that's motivation and encouragement for you and me to do what might seem scary, painful and fearful. It might take time. It might be daunting. But being a work in progress is much better than sitting on the sidelines wondering what you could've been. The more you learn, the more you grow. And the more you grow the more you can help others. So it all comes back around. A work in progress is a never ending task, but that is the nature of being vintage. You either get better with time, or you get worse. 

Food for thought: are you committed to being a work in progress?  

 

 

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Soul Food (New Life and Easter Sunday)

Welcome to Soul Food. Each Sunday, on this site, we focus on healthy living by reflecting on our soul and God. For if we neglect that, we have lost everything. (Luke 9:25 and Matthew 16:26.) The day this is published, it is Easter Sunday. A code for wearing a new dress as well as the color white. But Easter is so much more than that. It is a day of resurrection. New life. Hope. The old is in the past and the future is just beginning. Recently, I've been thinking about the past and the future.

There is no question about it, life can be complex, overwhelming, frustrating and daunting. And when the past seems greater than the future, our perspective can shift from living in hope and freedom to doom and gloom. The enemy wants us to stay in the past instead of living with faith and peace.

Just as we look forward to wearing a new dress (me included - hey it's a rare occasion that I'm not in spandex!) so should we look forward to what lies ahead. So many of us are living in the past and letting it define us instead of living in the present and letting God be our hope and future. If you desire to have new life, you've got to put the past behind you and start living in the present. 

Easter or Resurrection Sunday is a great day to put those things that bother you, haunt you or trouble you and say no more. Shake them off and start living in peace and blessing. New life begins when we want to change and work on our hangups. Hangups can be stepping stones to having a better life by working on what troubles us. Or it can enslave us to a life of misery and defeat.

Is something from your past bothering you? Does it seem like your past overshadows everything you do? Today is a great day to stop living in the past and start living in the truth. Living in truth and peace is better than living in lies.

It's Easter Sunday. How can you start living from here on out in faith, peace, happiness, joy, love? Wear your new dress. Enjoy wearing white again. But don't forget to start wearing the truth of the present, instead of the lies of the past.

 

photo credit: Aunt Owwee

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Soul Food (When Life Is Overwhelming)

Welcome to Soul Food. Each Sunday, on this site, we focus on healthy living by reflecting on our soul and God. For if we neglect that, we have lost everything. (Luke 9:25 and Matthew 16:26.) Question: Have you ever been overwhelmed by life?

If you said yes, you're being honest. I don't think any of us have ever not been overwhelmed with life to a certain extent! The question is what are you going to do with that overwhelming feeling?

Last week, I was under a ton of stressful, overwhelming situations. And then I encountered someone else who was also feeling overwhelmed by life and was going to end it all. My heart went out to them. I did what I could (email, resources, prayed with them over the phone and called the police). I don't know what happened, but I am hopeful that they chose life.

Naturally, I started thinking and pondering on why some people lose ALL sight of hope and others hold on to that very fine thread of hope in the pitch black. I don't have an answer, but I do know that when I am overwhelmed there are a few things I do to keep that spark of hope alive. Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed today (and if not today you probably will in the future!) and I hope they help you.

1) Talk. It's very natural to want to withdrawal and not talk about what is bothering you. By talking with trusted friends you can gain a different perspective and lean on them when you don't see the light. We were created to be social, to talk, to be with people. We weren't made to do life alone. If you don't have a trusted friend, seek one. A good, Christian church is a great place to start. When you deal with your overwhelming stuff with someone else, the mountain doesn't seem so challenging anymore. 

2) Time. It's been said that time heals all wounds. I don't necessarily believe that. I do believe that time will make the pain a little more bearable and the scar that forms serves as a reminder that you've survived. The second piece of time is that even if you can't see your future in front of you (and if you do, it looks like a never ending black cloud) it's there. Don't think about months from now, focus on today. Slow down and do what you can to make today better. If you do that each day, things will get better. 

3) Tackle. What is bothering you? What is overwhelming? Don't be afraid to get dirty and wrestle with what is weighing on your mind and heart. We can only change what we acknowledge. It might be scary and frightening but healing can only happen when we face what is bothering us and work through it. 

4) Faith. Not a "t" word, but it has to be here. There are times in my life when the only thing I had was my faith. Two verses that helped me:

Joshua 1:6 "Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them."

AND

Deuteronomy 31:6 "So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Read them until you believe.

Feeling overwhelmed by life? You shouldn't. God will never fail nor abandon you. Chances are that your perspective is skewed and just needs a little encouragement. So be of good courage and live life with faith vs. overwhelming fear.

 

photo credit: david.nikonvscanon

 

 

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ME: Motivation Encouragement (Is There a Dinosaur In Your Closet?)

Mondays are typically a day that people dread. How many people do you know that say “Happy Monday!” (well, besides me)? Very few! Well, we want to help you have a positive day, week, month, year, life … So every Monday we have a series called ME: Motivation Encouragement. This is one way we can help you start your Monday off on the right foot! Question: Is there a dinosaur named discouragement in your closet?

Everything around us threatens to remind us that what you are doing isn't working and that you should give up. BUT just because you don't see results right away, doesn't mean you toss in the towel. It means you keep doing the right thing whether or not you'll ever see results. A few things about discouragement.

1) Discouragement is the enemy trying to tell you that living for God isn't worth it

2) Discouragement is the enemy trying to tell you that doing the right thing doesn't matter

3) Other people will try to discourage you because they are jealous of what you are brave enough to attempt

4) Discouragement will usually happen when you aren't feeling good about yourself, the results you are seeking aren't happening or some other variable that you can't control.

The opposite of discouragement is enCOURAGEment. So if you are feeling discouraged, you've got to keep your chin up and look at all you have accomplished. Sometimes it's really helpful to just close your eyes and think back over the last few months or even years. Think of those times when you didn't think you would make it. But look- here you are today. Sure, we each have things that we would like to change, but the fact of the matter is that you made it through.

If we didn't have discouraging times, we wouldn't need courage. Courage is keeping the faith despite everything around us going wrong. Not giving up (or in). Just this week I was feeling discouraged and I was reminded that if even just one person has been helped, I have done good. Sometimes discouragement wants to downplay what we have done. Don't listen to that dinosaur voice!

Do you have a dinosaur in your closet? Feeling discouraged? Facing a long week ahead? Not seeing the progress you long to see? Be of good courage. Kick that dinosaur out of your closet and life. You don't need it. You need to keep moving forward in the positive direction with your life. Here are two favorite verses of mine:

2 Corinthians 7:6a "But God, who encourages those who are discouraged ..."

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you not forsake you."

Don't lose sight of the hope, courage, and strength that has brought you this far!

peace, sweat, love: life

photo credit: uberculture

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Soul Food (A Box Full of Chocolates)

Welcome to Soul Food. Each Sunday on this site we focus on healthy living by reflecting on our soul and God. For if we neglect that, we have lost everything. (Luke 9:25 and Matthew 16:26.) Question: Do you have a need?

This past week I was feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed. My needs were filling up like a box of assorted chocolates. And the names were not tempting in the least little bit. As I laid in bed one morning, my eyes stared at the ceiling above me, wondering what would hit me next, a verse suddenly flashed across my brainwaves. I love God's timing.

The verse reads: "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

As I read and re-read this verse my mind was thinking faster then I could write. Here are a few things that I gathered when pondering the verse.

1) ALL. It says that God will supply ALL your needs. Not some needs. Not maybe supply your needs. But ALL. How powerful is that?!

2) Wants or Needs? It doesn't say "supply all your wants." It says "supply all your needs." There is a big difference between needs and wants. Usually our box of chocolates is full of wants. Not needs. Do we really need that car? Or that new outfit? Or that latest gadget (new iPad ring a bell?) Needs are often more practical - like a roof over our head. Or food. Or a health miracle. Often when we look deep into our heart we see that what we want is very different from we need. God won't supply our wants, he'll supply our needs.

3) A promise. This verse is a promise to me and I hope to you too. When it seems like our needs are overflowing, God will be right there supplying for you. Perhaps not in the way you think he should supply you or when He supplies your need, but he will supply for you.

4) Sin or blessing? Also, God won't bless disobedience or sin. God will bless those who live and honor him. This verse made me realize that in order for me to have my needs supplied by Jesus I need to be walking with Him so I can be blessed. Blessing comes when we make God-honoring and God-fearing choices.

5) Timing. It is also about timing. When we have a need, God's timing is perfect. And by perfect timing I mean not when I want it, but when God wants it. Personally, this can be frustrating for me. I like to have a plan and know what, when and how things will happen. But each day God is showing me that it isn't about my timing, but His. And that's where trusting and having faith that God will supply ALL my needs comes into play.

I don't know how God will supply my box of chocolates needs, but I have faith that He will supply them. And I'm excited to see how He supplies them :).

Food for thought No. 1: Is your box of chocolates a need or a want?

Food for thought No. 2: Will you trust God to supply your needs?

 

photo by Marit & Toomas Hinosaar

 

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Get Dirty. Get Life.

If you read the title, you might be wondering where I am going with this. Well, read on and you'll find out :). I meet so many people that are afraid to get dirty. Either metaphorically or in real life. In real life, they are afraid to mess up their new running shoes. Newsflash - if you are trying to keep your shoes clean you better just stay sitting on the couch. This life isn't a dance, it's a battlefield and you better be prepared for whatever may come your way. Metaphorically speaking people are afraid to peel back the layers that makes them the person they are. It's much better to just build a bridge over the mud and not get dirty. It's a lot of work to try to live a better life.

I mean, honestly, who wants to face a battlefield of past hurts, hangups, addiction, depression, fear, loneliness, excuses, purity - insert your war here? Facing any or all of these things can be daunting. Overwhelming. Scary. But if we don't go to battle to fight for the freedom you so desperately desire, how will you ever win? The only way to winning the battle is A) with God's grace B) standing up to our deepest fear and dealing with. No war was ever fought ignoring the enemy. 

Don't be afraid to get dirty, be afraid to stay dirty. When we get dirty, we become clean. But when we refuse to get dirty, that's when we will always be filthy. When you choose to work on whatever problem you are struggling with, victory is yours. Half the battle is just acknowledging that you are going to face _______ and get dirty.

Want life? You've got to be brave enough to go to battle and win the fight for your soul, mind and heart. God gives victory to those who long to have a heart after His own heart and work on the things that keep us from truly knowing God. Seek freedom from ___? You've got to get dirty to be clean.

Getting dirty doesn't have to be scary and getting dirty doesn't mean we get dirty alone. We are all in this together and each of us struggle with problems. The key is to reach out and seek the right help in fighting our battle. There is power and strength in numbers. There are support groups, good, godly friends, even the right Christian counselors/therapists

Afraid to get dirty? Afraid to truly live life? If you seek victory over whatever is troubling you, get dirty. Lay it on the line. Wrestle with it. Have a mud fight. Freedom is found when you cry out to God for help. And you can declare peace and victory of mind, heart and soul. 

Food for thought: Will you get dirty by facing your deepest, darkest fears, problems and get dirty by going to battle?

1 Corinthians 15:57  "But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Photo credit: Stig Nygaard

 

 

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ME: Motivation Encouragement (Stuck In A Tree)

Mondays are typically a day that people dread. How many people do you know that say “Happy Monday!” (well, besides me)? Very few! Well, we want to help you have a positive day, week, month, year, life … So every Monday we have a series called ME: Motivation Encouragement. This is one way we can help you start your Monday off on the right foot! Life thought: are you stuck in a tree?

The other day as I was running, I saw these balloons stuck in a tree. And I thought what a perfect example of how sometimes life can be. Like balloons, we were made to fly, not be stuck in a tree. Do you feel like the above picture? Just waiting for someone to rescue us or wait till the air is out? The trouble with that plan is that by the time the air has left us, it is too late. Literally.

How do we become stuck in a tree? Usually hangups, excuses, fear, past hurts, guilt and unwillingness to change. Being stuck in midair isn't fun. And sometimes you don't even know how you got there, till you look around you and wonder how you ended up there. So how can you get unstuck?

Faith. Take a leap of faith. Will it be scary? You bet. Will it hurt? Perhaps. Will we be free? YES. Faith is having the courage to do the right thing because God has given us the spirit of courage and not fear. It can be scary to face a fear or realize the excuse we made along is actually stopping us from flying- living life the way God wants us too. Taking that first step of faith is the tipping point in the right direction to living life.

Face it. No problem was ever solved by ignoring it. You have to face your problem square in the eye to fix it. And when you face it, don't go it alone. There is comfort and compassion when we face it WITH someone else. A solid support system is critical to getting unstuck. The ballon needs help to get out of the tree. Be it wind or a stranger coming along to cut us free is only when we can fly again. Don't go at life alone. (A good church is a great place to start.)

Freedom. Freedom comes when we acknowledge how we got stuck. Perhaps we need to heal from past emotional, physical or spiritual wounds. The scar will always be there, but instead of a painful reminder it is a memory of God's mercy, love and grace. When you are free from the things that haunt you, everything takes on a whole new light (and life). You have joy, happiness, peace and a heart full of love. 

Stuck in a tree? You can be free. It just might take a little work to get unstuck. Have faith, face it and you will be free to fly in no time! :)

 

Food for thought: are you stuck in a tree? How can you free yourself? Will you be set free?

peace, sweat, love: life

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Soul Food (You Gotta Believe)

Welcome to Soul Food. Each Sunday on this site we focus on healthy living by reflecting on our soul and God. For if we neglect that, we have lost everything. (Luke 9:25 and Matthew 16:26.) Do you believe?

I engage, interact, observe and with countless people who don't believe. People who don't believe that they can make it. People who don't believe they can do the impossible. People that don't believe that faith IN Jesus is enough. How can such a simple thing be so complicated? Well, we're human and we make things a lot more complicated then they really are.

The other morning I was reading a verse that really impacted me. It was Mark 9:23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes." I found this really fascinating. Anything is possible if we just believe. But how many times do we listen to the voice of doubt, fear or lies instead of that truth? The first step isn't getting out of bed, it's believing that we can get out of bed. 

I always say hold on to the faith that has brought you this far. And I don't mean that lightly. To be where I am today is only by the grace, mercy and love of God. When I am struggling and want to bang my head against a wall, I stop to pause and close my eyes and look back on my life. I can see the times where things were completely dark & dismal and I had no idea how I was going to survive, but I BELIEVED God would be there every step of the way with me. And that's one of the key's- believing that God will never let go of me.  

Read this from Deuteronomy 31: 7-8 "Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you." When we believe- have faith- that God will not fail us not abandon us, freedom is ours. Believing is possible. Anything is possible.

Believing doesn't mean everything will be smooth from here on out, but when we believe in Jesus that whatever our "anything" is possible, life takes on a while new outlook. What do you to need to believe today? That God loves you? That you can run a marathon? That you can lose weight? That you can eat real food? To be pure in action, word and deed? That you can survive whatever you are going through? You just gotta believe.

Soul Food Devotion: The first step is to believe. Can you believe? 

Prayer: Lord, to each person that reads this, may you let them know that they can believe. May they see that whatever they are going through is to bring them closer to you. You oh Lord heal the broken hearted and comfort the troubled. I thank you for promises and that you are a God of mercy, graces and second chances. Amen.

 

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Memory Makers or Memory Markers?

You and I both have memories. Some good. Some bad. Some happy. Some sad. Some bittersweet. Memories are funny like that. They have the effect to make us think back to that moment it time with happy or sad emotion. And today is one of those such moments for me.

In fact, every March 15 is a memory-charged day for me. As I was mentally preparing for today, I thought about what makes us think about memory makers. And how our reaction to the sad memory makers can make or break us as a person.

Memories can be marked from all sorts of various things. Birth, first race finish line crossed, first house, first driver's license, weight loss goal achieved - they all come back to one thing. Life. Life is made up of life changing memories, but what about sad memories?

Sometimes we let sad or difficult memory makers become memory markers (read that carefully) because we don't want to move on. But if we perpetually stay in the marker stage instead of healing and moving on, we are only hurting ourselves. And we'll always have trouble when that date rolls around. So what can you do?

Acknowledge. The first thing we have to do is acknowledge the pain behind the memory. Brushing it under the carpet won't do a bit of good. Sooner than later, something will trigger an emotion and you won't be able to hold it back. As painful as it might be, by acknowledging it is where the healing actually begins.

Accept. Accepting the memory won't make the memory go away, but it does make it easier to deal with it. By choosing to heal and moving on with our life is where freedom can be found. Also, accepting the memory doesn't mean that what happened is right, accepting the memory just means we can live life without looking behind our shoulder. And ask God to help you accept it to. Our healing comes from Him.

Appreciate. Appreciate the memory marker. Strive and seek to find the positive in it. It might be hard to do, but when we acknowledge and accept whatever memory is troubling us, we can step back and appreciate what we learned. Life is so much better when we can appreciate the things that make us a better and stronger person.

Food for thought: Do you have a memory marker that you need to make a memory?

 

(In honor of my memory maker, Hannah. Happy birthday, Hannah. I will always love you. And you will always hold a special place in my heart.)

photo credit: Pink Sherbet 

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Soul Food (When Our Dreams Get Rained On)

Welcome to Soul Food. Each Sunday on this site we focus on healthy living by reflecting on our soul and God. For if we neglect that, we have lost everything. (Luke 9:25 and Matthew 16:26.) Dreams. Are they God's dreams, your dreams or fantasies?

There is always a lot of talk about dreams. A popular statement people say is "living the dream." Sometimes that is code for "keeping the faith." Dreams in everyday life aren't usually what we had visualized in our head. It's kind of like being married - marriage isn't always happy. Same with dreams. When you're trying to live the dream, it can sometimes feel like a nightmare. Or maybe your dream is getting rained on. So what do you do when your dream seems more like smashed and broken pieces versus a nice, pretty package topped with a bow?

Four things to consider when your dream gets rained on.

Plan. We need to ask ourselves, is this my plan (dream), God's plan (dream) or a fantasy? Is the dream some la-la land fantasy or a God-given calling (dream)? When our dream is not founded with and by God, our dreams will feel like a nightmare. But even if it is God's plan, it can still feel like a nightmare at times. Remember Joseph? Job? Both of these guys had some pretty tough years. Yes years of wondering what the world God was doing to them. In the end Joseph went on to lead the land during famine and Job was blessed with children, a huge ranch and was able to see his grandkids- four generations worth! When our dream is rooted with God's blessing, it doesn't mean things will go accordingly to how we think it should, but how God will draw us closer to Him with each passing day.

People. It is absolutely amazing to me how people will try to sabotage, ridicule, bully, hate, discourage - you name it - on other people's dreams. Outside dream-takers are people who are jealous of the people that trying to live the plan (dream) that God has called them to. It takes a lot of courage to go after the dream, let alone live it. If you have people trying to knock your dream, you're probably on the right track.

Purpose. What is your purpose for "living the dream?" To get rich? Be famous? Help others? Make a positive difference? If the dream is based by frivolous things vs. things that truly matter, your dream will always be rained on. Make sure that your purpose for your dream is based with God.

Perception. Dreams don't happen overnight. They happen when you intentionally live your life with God's blessing and direction. There is a big difference between your dream and what God's dream is for your life. Sometimes our perception is skewed because we are looking to the world for validation of our dream instead of accepting God's love, mercy and grace.

I've had many "dreams" feel like nightmares and wonder what on earth God is doing with me. I remember that just because I don't always know what is going on, God always knows the big picture. And for that I am thankful. In fact, just this week a desire I've had for many years may never happen. Instead of freaking out, I'm keeping the faith that if this dream of mine is what God wants, He will make it happen.

Food for thought: dreams. Are they God's dreams, your dreams or fantasies?

Proverbs 16:9 "We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it."

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ME: Motivation Encouragement (The F Word)

Mondays are typically a day that people dread. How many people do you know that say “Happy Monday!” (well, besides me)? Very few! Well, we want to help you have a positive day, week, month, year, life … So every Monday we have a series called ME: Motivation Encouragement. This is one way we can help you start your Monday off on the right foot! Question: which F word do you live by? Fear or faith?

Sometimes it's easier to fear potential fear than to take a risk and be proven that you had nothing to fear all along.

Last week, I was having a conversation that produced the above thought (you're welcome). I made the comment that I feared what might happen. Keyword: might. They responded back "what's there to fear?" It hit me like an avalanche. I was fearing nothing. What could happen. What might happen. Using past situations to justify future fear. Letting fear stop me from fully living life. Using fear as an excuse to not do something for what might happen. At that every moment I made the mental switch to stop living it fear and start living in faith. Freedom. Peace. 

Realizing this was so empowering. I realized that I had been living an excuse of fear. Most of us - at least not me - think of fear as an excuse, but it is. "What if I fall down and scrape my knee?" So I'm not going to run. "What if I hop on my bike and fall over?" So I'm not going to ride. "What if I get in a relationship and it doesn't work out and I get hurt?" So I'm going to stay single. "What if the plane crashes?" So I'm not going to fly. (Planes are actually the safest form of travel - more car crashes than plane crashes.) Name your fear/excuse.

Fear is like worry. Both are about things that haven't even happened and probably never will. Live in freedom and faith.

So what if you fall down and scrape your knee? You get back up again and keep running. What if you fall over on your bike? You get back on the bike and ride. What if you end up breaking up? You heal, learn and move forward. Most times, our fear is unjustified and never even happens. Making fear have a stronger grip on our lives then faith does. 

You live by faith, then no matter what happens, God will always be there. Faith isn't thinking that everything will work out the way we want it, faith is trusting and believing that God has a greater plan for us. Fear is keeping us from living a life that God wants us to have.

So today, say no to fear. Say yes to faith.

What's your fear/excuse? Make a commitment to say no to fear and start living by faith!

 

 

Photo credit: Dayana Neid 

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Soul Food (Coffee Anyone?)

Welcome to Soul Food. Each Sunday on this site we focus on healthy living by reflecting on our soul and God. For if we neglect that, we have lost everything. (Luke 9:25 and Matthew 16:26.) It's always interesting to see people write their thoughts about coffee. For some they need three cups to make it through the day, for others it is the first thing they need in the morning in order for the planets to get along.

I've been thinking about this recently and it occurred to me that what if people lived for God like they do for coffee? Instead of coffee to make it through the day, what about Jesus? Instead of coffee first thing in the morning, what about reading the Bible and praying? Wouldn't that be a better start to the day? Me thinks so.

While I don't drink coffee, I have challenged myself to reading the Bible first thing before my official day begins. (Side Note: It's also nice to have a Bible reading plan to keep me to this goal! For 2012, I have made the goal of reading the entire Bible and I'm using the YouVersion app. If you haven't checked it out, you should, :)).

Back to the coffee topic. What would happen if coffee was the second thing you did to start your day? How could your life, perspective and attitude change by making God's Word a priority? It will change your life - for the better! God is an incredible source of inspiration and encouragement for your day ahead!

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.." Matthew 6:33 NLT

 

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I Don't Blog. I Write. (Part 1)

I don't blog. I write. From the heart. From the places of personal experience, heartache, the mountain summits (literally thanks to Colorado's 14ers) and the trail. Perhaps that is why the tagline for this site is called "Thoughts From The Trail." I spend a lot of time on the dusty, and sometimes, muddy trail running. As I am running I have a chance (many hours actually) to think about life - both past, present and future - the things I care about, the topics that drive me crazy, how good a nap is going to be and a LOT about faith and God. And from those runs and races comes material for this site. I don't give you minute-to-minute, play-by-play details of my life. I don't believe that is what I am called to do on this site. I do believe that my life is here to inspire, encourage, motivate and positively challenge you.

Why am I passionate about the food we eat and the beverages we drink? Because I care about you even though I don't know you.

Why do I write about faith and God? Because Jesus has changed my life - the way I live and breathe and think. My heart's desire is to share (not shove) what God has done in my life with everyone.

Why do I have a positive perspective on life? Because I know what it is like to live in oppression and life is too short to live in darkness. I want people to be happy. To wake up and face the day ahead with hope!

Why do I use the word "I?" Because I am living my life. The word "I" has nothing to do with me, but rather using it as an adjective. So before you get all judgmental (wait, some of you already have), please know that it is through my personal life experiences that I am writing. There is no BS and certainly no whining around here.

Some are called to preach. Some are called to be a doctor. I believe I've been called to be that light in the darkness by bringing hope, positive & encouraging words and actions, helping people see that they can have fitness, real food and faith in their own life and that life isn't about us, but about those around us. Those who don't have clean water. A roof over their head. Or that person who hopes that they will make it through another day.

Yes, life is hard. I don't have all the answers. I learn something new each day. But what I do know is that I have this intense, passionate fire to help the world. Be it running 100 miles at a time or posting photos of the food I make and eat or the little girl I sponsor/support monthly in Africa with World Vision or helping to spread the word about the clean water projects with blood: water mission, I know that this is my ministry.

We've all been called by God. Some of us just haven't answered that call, but that's an article for another day.

I don't blog. I attempt to write with love, passion, and a strong desire that you would find hope in God.

peace, sweat, love: life

 

photo credit: Paul Wever

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I'm Better Than You (Comparison or Peace?)

I've been writing this topic in my head for years. I've seen it personally in my own life and I've seen it with my own eyes and ears too, and today, I am finally going to write about it. Comparison. Let me give you a few examples of how comparison works. Women comparing themselves to the gal next to them and it just doesn't stop there. Women also verbally talk negatively about themselves: "I'm not skinny enough," "I have big legs," "I don't have abs like her," "I can't run like her," "I wish I was her." What do you say when no one is looking?

Where else does comparison strike? Pretty much in every area of our life. Perhaps we're always striving for a bigger house, more money, a fancier car, THE yoga mat, THAT school, our kids reading before our friends kids, our child being potty trained first, wearing designer clothes (what brand is that? Will people notice what I am wearing?) ... name your thing.

But it just don't stop there. We actually secretly want people to fail. You might not admit it out loud, but you've done it. "I hope they don't get into that school," "I hope they don't that job," "I hope they don't finish that race," "I hope they don't get that house" ... the list can be endless.

We get so focused on the mirror to our right and our left, that we become consumed with comparison and what does comparison breed? Jealousy, discontent, anger, hate, rage, evil, greed. We need to be content with where we are and what we have. This doesn't mean we sit back and do nothing to achieve our goals and dreams. But when we work towards our dreams and goals they need to be focused on what God wants for us, not what our neighbor has.

There are so many issues to comparing. Acceptance. (Will people like me now? Will this get retweeted? Will I get more likes than my competition?). Who are you trying to gain acceptance from? The answer could be scary for some of us. But if we take the time to deal with our scary issues we can move forward with healing and peace.

Unhappiness and discontent are other side affects of comparison. We are never happy with what we have. They have a double king bed? Well, we'll buy a triple king bed. They remodeled their kitchen? We'll remodel our WHOLE house. They have 10 foot ceilings? We'll have 12 foot ceilings, but things don't buy us happiness or enjoyment. They only feed the hungry comparison beast.

I posted this last evening: Dear women, you are beautiful. Stop comparing yourself to the gal beside you. Love yourself and for the things you HAVE achieved. #bodyimage

And of course that post received many RTs and likes. That made me feel good - kidding. And someone shared with me that Andy Stanley (no relation to me) had just preached on this very topic yesterday. I listened to the message and it. Was. Good. He said this "there is no win in comparison." How true is that? There is no finish line in comparison. Life is not a competition my friend. Life is about helping others in this journey.

So, if you are in the comparison cycle, it's time to break that right now. It will take a lot of diligent, hard work, but you'll find peace, contentment and happiness when you stop comparing yourself to everyone around you. They aren't you. And you aren't them. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. And you know what? Others would probably trade places with you. The grass you think is greener on the other side is your jealousy making it green. Stop comparing yourself!

Some questions to ask yourself.

Who is your mirror?

What's driving you?

Does comparison have control over your life?

Photo credit: seanmcmenemy

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